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Wellbeing and Creativity in Performance

Dr Lucie Clements

In the Wellbeing and Creativity in Performance Lab we research the psychological and creative demands of performance domains such as music, education, dance, gymnastics, pilots and theatre. We explore individual and environmental characteristics that underpin the development of talent and expertise.

In addition, we are interested in interventions that mediate the challenges (such as stress, anxiety and perfectionism) of performance. We explore the effects of performance enhancement interventions through qualitative, quantitative and psychophysiological measures.

Current projects

The role of classical ballet training, autonomy support and gender in developing creativity: Ballet training often follows a pedagogical model which is hierarchical and authoritarian, favouring tradition and reproduction. Females in particular report passivity is encouraged. Contrastingly, dance environments which are highly autonomy supportive have been shown to nurture flexibility and creativity. We are examining choreographers’ views on how their classical ballet training inspired and/or inhibited their creativity and emergence into professional choreographic work, and how this may explain the gender gap in professional choreography.

Can psychophysiological indicators of challenge and threat predict performance in an education setting? We recorded physiological metrics indicative of psychological states (challenge vs threat) during baseline and during task instructions, whereby students were told they needed to prepare for and deliver a speech regarding an academic topic. The results will enable us to identify those that are challenged (embrace the task) vs those that are threatened (display avoidance behaviours) during presentations, a fundamental skill advocated throughout University.

Developing a model of performance anxiety in a vocational school for talented young dancers: Over an academic year we collected data on the psychological experiences (e.g. perfectionism, passion for dance, resilience, tolerance to uncertainty and performance anxiety) of young dancers pursuing vocational dance training. We assessed experiences across a variety of school assessments, showcases and examinations and undertook in depth interviews. In the coming year we will develop and deliver a yearlong intervention for reducing performance anxiety. 

Some recent past projects

  • Creativity, novelty and the imagination in contemporary dance
  • Psychophysiological responses and sporting performance
  • Social-psychological interventions to improve music performance and lower anxiety
  • Psychophysiological responses and education
  • Basic psychological need satisfaction and leukocyte function in an elite ballet school


University of Chichester Members:

  • Dr Sue Churchill - Senior Lecturer in Psychology
  • Dr Gemma Harman - Senior Lecturer in Dance Science
  • Sophie Goodwin, PhD Student/Associate Lecturer (Expertise in music performance & children’s learning)
  • Matt Jewiss – PhD Student/Associate Lecturer/Psychology Laboratory Technician (Expertise in psychophysiology & performance)
  • Dr Oliver Runswick - Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology (Skill Acquisition)

External Collaborators:

  • Dr Helen Clegg (University of Buckingham)
  • Dr Siobhan Mitchell (University of Exeter)
  • Dr Sanna Nordin-Bates (Swedish School of Sports & Health Sciences)
  • Professor Emma Redding (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance)

Recent publications:

Smith, M., Jewiss, M., Birch, P., & Runswick, O. (2018). Do Challenge and Threat States predict performance in an academic task? (In Preparation – Submit September 2018).

Churchill, S., Jessop, D. C., Goodwin, S., Ritchie, L., & Harris, P. R. (2018). Self-affirmation improves music performance among performers high on the impulsivity dimension of sensation seeking. Psychology of Music.

Clements, L., Lefebvre Sell, N. M., Redding, E., & May, J. (2018). Expertise in evaluating choreographic creativity: an online adaptation of the Consensual Assessment Technique. Frontiers in Psychology.

Clements, L., & Weber, R. (2018). Making Space for the Psychology of Creativity in Dance Science. International Journal of Art, Culture and Design Technologies (IJACDT)

Jewiss, M. (2018). Reflections on The Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology Conference (DSEP). Sport and Exercise Psychology Review (Accepted).

Smith, M., Figgins, S., Jewiss, M., & Kearney, P. (2017). Investigating inspirational leader communication in an elite team sport context. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching.

Clements, L. (2016). Investigating creativity, novelty and the imagination in dance science. Movimenta

 Sowden, P., Clements, L., Redlich, C & Lewis. C (2015). Improvisation facilitates divergent thinking and creativity: Realizing a benefit of primary school arts education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

 Jola, C., Clements, L. & Christensen, J. (2012). Moved by stills: Kinesthetic sensory  experiences in viewing dance photographs. Seeing & Perceiving.